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This is probably worth a diary.

Firstly, Derrida etc aren't wrong. Political truth is an effect of power. Empirically, you can make populations believe almost any old nonsense as long as you have a physical power base and - optionally - a minimum of intellectual air cover.

The issue is how to challenge that. Derrida etc believed that you did it by deconstruction. Sokal believes you do it by speaking 'truth.'

Empirically, neither works. The world is not lacking effective, pithy and accurate critiques of neoliberalism. Obviously being right and scientifically accurate isn't enough.

It's also worth pointing out that historically, 'science' has associated itself more with neoliberalism than with minority support. Professional sceptics like Schermer have a record of boosting free market ideology. And while the scientific community has never had a problem mustering a gas giant-sized cloud of seriousness to attack trivia like spoon bending or astrology, there was nary a squeak heard about the collective insanity of free marketism and its manic depressive cycling, or any serious criticism of the new aristocracy that it supports.

If you go looking for formal scientific support for minority interests, it's not all that easy to find.

Empirical political research would be something else again. The Right has good rules of thumb for how to do PR and propaganda, and there's some psychological basis for all of them. But would a complete model of mind for political action and opinion management really be a good thing in a culture that's effectively being run as an aristocracy?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 6th, 2009 at 04:47:56 AM EST
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